Peacekeepers’ families ‘understand’ no-visit policy, AFP says
MANILA, Philippines—The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) on Tuesday said the families of the Filipino peacekeepers “understand” the no-visit policy imposed on them.
Major General Domingo Tutaan, AFP Spokesman, said they have explained to the families of the members of the Philippine Contingent to Liberia (PCL) that they cannot visit their loved ones during the 21-day quarantine that began on November 13.
“We have explained to the families that they cannot come and visit Caballo Island, and they are okay with it,” Tutaan said in a press briefing in Camp Aguinaldo.
He added that part of the no-visit policy of the families is that the AFP would have a difficult time in controlling the environment of the peacekeepers if throngs of their relatives arrive.
The PCL has been stationed in Caballo Island as part of the AFP protocol in dealing with United Nations peacekeepers stationed in Ebola-stricken Liberia.
“The families may hug, kiss, if we bring them to the island, we may not be able to control the environment,” Tutaan said.
“The peacekeepers know for a fact that the quarantine is the best for them and their families.”
Tutaan added that the quarantine was also to control the exposure of the 100-plus troops to the “outside world” and prevent a “bigger problem.”
On Sunday, General Gregorio Pio Catapang, AFP Chief of Staff, together with Department of Health (DOH)Acting Secretary Janette Garin and other military and health officials, visited the peacekeepers in Caballo Island.
The visit received flak from the Philippine College of Physicians, saying that it posed great risks.
Tutaan, however, said that the visit of the AFP and the DOH personnel was meant to boost the morale of the troops who have been victims of stigma.
“There are reports or comments coming in that there is a stigma surrounding the peacekeepers, people are somewhat disgusted with them,” Tutaan said. “The visit was a boost to the morale of the troops.”
He added that the visit was not done haphazardly and was conducted in coordination with the DOH.
“This was not done with the flick of a finger or sparingly, this had the proper coordination with the DOH,” Tutaan said.
He added that there was no direct contact between Catapang, Garin and the peacekeepers.
DOH said that the Ebola can be contracted through the exchange of bodily fluids.
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